It is no exaggeration to state that through the efforts of crime writer Pierre Boileau and his collaborator, Thomas Narcejac, a new type of thriller was created. Together, under the pseudonym Boileau-Narcejac, they wrote studies in abnormal psychology rooted in the philosophical outlook of existentialism current in the Paris of the immediate pre-and post-World War II period. Film directors such as Alfred Hitchcock brought Boileau’s and Narcejac’s treatments of human duplicity and gullibility to a wider audience than that previously enjoyed by most thrillers.
Their tales are puzzles of intricate design that require the reader’s close attention. Each novel contains at least one startling development; some contain several. Many of the stories deal with people worn out by their mundane existence and who grasp at perceived opportunities to find some meaning in their lives. Their gullibility is matched by the amorality and artfulness of more vital characters, who trick them into doing things they had never considered doing.